“It takes a lot of bottle / To slay an axolotl” begins Simon’s Fisher’s Alphabetical Menagerie, setting out breezily on its mission to depict endangered species in poetry, pictures and prose – one for every letter. Each page has a six line poem about the animal in question plus a colourful illustration by Dave Smith. A bonus comes at the foot of each page with a bit of prose that provides some fast facts and colourful stores about the creatures.  We learn that the axolotl is a salamander originally found in Mexican lakes. Turn the page and you find there are 16,000 kinds of bee. Later you learn what a unau is and how many hearts an octopus has. The book therefore works for young children as a way to learn the alphabet and for older ones as a means to pick up some science and geography. This was a pandemic lockdown project for the author who subsequently thought the verses and information might entertain younger members of his family. Doubtless it has done so and will do the same for many other readers, young and old.

  • Alphabetical Menagerie by Simon Fisher is published by Austin Macauley (£8.99)